Hibernation Advice

All questions relating to hibernation can be placed here. It will make a good reference source for new keepers and keep hibernation related topics in one place, and easy to find.

Hibernation Advice

Postby NewTortOwner » Fri Sep 23, 2016 4:28 pm

Hello,

I wondered if I could get some advice please?

In February this year my father in law passed away and we adopted his female spur thighed tortoise. The tortoise was found roaming around an apple orchard over 40 years ago, so we’re not entirely sure how old she is now. I don’t think my father in law was particularly clued up on how best to look after a tortoise as in recent years she mainly lived off tinned sweetcorn and has probably never seen a heatlamp in her life! For hibernation she was placed in a cardboard box containing straw and put in the downstairs loo (unheated). Despite all this she still seems to be going strong.
Since weighing her back in late winter/early spring, she has gained over 400g and now weighs 2.9kg. As my father in law was very poorly at the end of last year she was hibernated in her box in the dining room (radiator turned off) so we had a lot of difficulty getting her to start feeding again.

I’ve read Andy’s book cover to cover and have done a lot of research on hibernation. I am keen to use the fridge method. HOWEVER, could anyone please advise if it would harm the tortoise to switch to a different method than she is used to?? I’m concerned about maintaining her at the 5 degrees C she requires if I go for the traditional box method.

I look forward to hearing your advice!
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Re: Hibernation Advice

Postby AliTBimbo » Sat Sep 24, 2016 9:37 am

Hi and welcome to the forum :)

I used the fridge method on an elderly spur thigh for first time last year, he'd always had double box method in freeze free attic (after bad experience in garage that froze one year)

His fridge hibernation was successful, very little weight loss.

Alarmed thermometers are a MUST. This link may be of use


http://www.tortoisetrust.org/articles/n ... ation.html
Regards,

Ali

1:0:0 TGG Spur Thigh Fred
1:0:0 TGI Spur Thigh Barnaby

http://www.easyfundraising.org.uk/causes/jillmartinfund
http://www.youniqueproducts.com/alitaylor
http://www.fredandbarnaby.co.uk
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Re: Hibernation Advice

Postby Stuart » Sat Sep 24, 2016 2:59 pm

There's not much to be added to what you'll have already read, but I don't think the change to a different method will be a problem. The bottom line is that hibernation behaviour is triggered by shortening days, decreased sunshine, lower temperatures, and increasingly limited feeding options. In the wild these all happen simultaneously and organically. In captivity we just have to organise and control them artificially.
So if you follow the wind-down advice in the TT articles, there'll come a point when the tortoise is ready to hibernate, and it won't matter to her whether that's in a cardboard box in the downstairs loo or in a cardboard box in a fridge, as long as the temperatures are low enough and then, ideally, maintained consistently. (The fridge method is therefore ideal)
Stuart
Hermanns (old female and 6 home-bred offspring), iberas (two), kbn (rescue), leopard, horsfield (rescue), stars (2 - long term loan), red-eared sliders (5)
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Re: Hibernation Advice

Postby NewTortOwner » Sat Sep 24, 2016 3:44 pm

Thanks both for confirming she should be fine in the fridge. My confidence was knocked by another tortoise owner who claimed I would kill her by changing the hibernation method!!
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